Our critics want the WPA to be a political dinosaur

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Mr. Editor,

The dust has settled on the current politico-ideological disposition of the PPP / C. The admission of former party secretaries-general Donald Ramotar and Clement Rohee that the PPP / C is no longer a Marxist / Leninist party justifies a national discourse. This confirmation came after a comment made by former PPP / C executive member and former speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran (August 22, 2021, in his column, The Conversation Tree). To justify their support for Mr Ramkarran’s observation, Ramotar and Rohee cited changes in the party’s political / economic and social programs: since 1992, after the party’s founding leader, Dr Cheddi Jagan, became chairman from Guyana. I withheld this letter for weeks to see responses from Indian writers, columnists and political activists to this revelation. To date, I have seen two responses: the latest is a letter published in the Stabroek News captioned “The PPP has long ceased to be a working class party” from an anonymous writer (September 22, 2021 ). Previously, the Village Voice newspaper commented on the matter. The marked silence from PPP / C members, sympathizers, Indian activists and others amounts to a concerted effort to prevent this issue from receiving the public scrutiny it deserves.

If a senior WPA official had declared the party no longer a Rodneyite party, there would have been an endless stream of letters criticizing the party leadership. This is not the case for PPP / C. In Guyanese politics, the WPA has become a victim of the double standard and hypocrisy of party critics. This is so even when these critics claim objectivity. But they don’t apply the same criteria used to judge WPA to PPP / C and other parties. The PPP / C is justified in making political and ideological changes that the party leadership deems necessary. On the other hand, our detractors want the WPA to be a political dinosaur, rooted in the past and unresponsive to developments in politics in the country / region and around the world. Unsurprisingly, PPPC propagandists and Indian activists who deal with the WPA opportunistically cite Walter Rodney’s remarks and positions on politics as sacrosanct, but do not do the same for Cheddi Jagan and the PPPC. In doing so, they claim to defend the ideas and legacy of Walter Rodney, when in reality they degrade Rodney whose policies have always been guided by an objective examination of situations and, if necessary, adjusting previous positions to reflect the concrete realities.

When the then President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, introduced his reforms under the titles of perestroika and glasnost, it created a wave of antagonistic debates and struggles in the parties allied with the USSR, resulting in the disappearance of rival factions. None of this happened in the PPP despite its historic claim to be then a Marxist / Leninist party with allegiance to the USSR. I remember the quiet debate among comrades about what this non-response from Jagan and the PPP meant. Many of us had concluded that the difference between the PPP and other Soviet allied parties was that the PPP was an Indian party hiding under the banner of Marxism / Leninism. I conclude by making the above point to say that the recent revelations by the main PPPC leaders (Donald Ramotar and Clement Rohee) that the party is no longer a Marxist / Leninist party do not surprise me. It was just a matter of time.

Yours faithfully,

Tacuma Ogunseye


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